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Cuts in EU mobile roaming charges come into effect

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Cuts in EU mobile roaming charges come into effect

The shock of discovering a surprisingly inflated mobile phone bill after travelling abroad within the EU should be a thing of the past from now on.

Dramatic reductions in controversial roaming charges imposed by operators came into effect on Saturday (April 30).

It follows a nine-year campaign by the European Commission to tackle excessive charges and should bring large savings for consumers.

The new rules cap the extra charges that operators can impose on travellers from other EU countries. Roaming surcharges are now limited to:

  • 0.05€ extra per minute for outgoing calls
  • 0.0114€ extra per minute for incoming calls
  • 0.02€ extra per text message sent
  • 0.05€ extra per Megabyte of data downloaded

The changes are expected to bring roaming charges down by at least a third. The biggest reductions are expected to be for consumers downloading data – photos, emails and social media.

These are just interim measures: the surcharges are due to be abolished altogether from June next year.

The Commission – which says roaming charges have already been brought down by 75 percent from their original levels – wants to eliminate all barriers to create a single digital market.

In Britain, which is in the grip of campaigning ahead of the forthcoming “Brexit” referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union, Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey questioned whether caps on roaming charges would remain if the country voted to leave the EU.

But the Vote Leave campaign said the UK would be able to keep the limits if it wanted to, and there was no evidence that charges would go up if Britain left.

The measures on roaming charges are being introduced via an EU regulation rather than a directive, meaning they are not specifically incorporated into UK law – and if the country voted to leave, it could decide whether or not to keep them.